AUSTIN, Texas — Gun violence is on the rise in Austin, and police have a theory that legal gun owners may be at least partly to blame.

That's according to a newly released Austin Police Department study that takes an in-depth look at crimes in Austin involving firearms. It takes a dive into five years of numbers and was done by APD's crime data unit, which analyzes trends to try to figure out where the department should direct police officers.

According to the report, gun use in the city’s most serious crimes – murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – went from 631 in 2014 to 996 in 2018, a 57.8% increase.

The report noted that violent crime increased overall during that period, but that one in five serious crimes involved a gun in 2014, compared to one in four in 2018.

But the report also noted that the number of stolen guns was 4,241 during that five-year period and that the number of cases increased from 2014 to 2018. Analysts think many of those guns were used to carry out crimes in other parts of the city.

Police Chief Brian Manley said the data should be a reminder to legal gun owners in our community. 

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“Being a state that has the right to carry, and with having laws that allow firearms in vehicles, that is both the challenge, but also an opportunity for the citizens to step forward and the community to work with us on the gun crime that is occurring," Manley said. "That is by being responsible gun owners and ensuring your weapon is safely and securely stored.”

The report says stolen guns more frequently happened in northwest and southwest Austin, even though crime hotspots were downtown and along Interstate 35. 

The analysts who wrote this report say they hope it not only will help Austin police address gun crime, but it can also be used for a larger community conversation – all with the goal of making Austin one of the nation's safest cities.

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